Ross River virus infectioner
What is Ross River virus infection?
Ross River virus infection, or epidemic polyarthritis, is a viral infection spread by infected mosquitoes.
The virus causing Ross River virus infection is a member of the Togaviridae family of viruses.
Risk to travellers
Fewer than one in three humans will become infected after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
It generally results in a self-limiting flu-like illness, but it can cause long-term joint pain and fatigue.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- There is no vaccine that protects against the Ross River virus.
- There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for Ross River virus infection, but treatment of symptoms can reduce discomfort.
- Medical treatment is aimed at easing joint pains and swelling, and minimizing fatigue and lethargy.
- Incubation of the disease following a bite of an infected mosquito varies from three days to three weeks with symptoms developing within seven to 14 days.
- Symptoms of Ross River virus infection vary from person to person, but commonly include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, aching tendons, skin rash, fever, fatigue, headache and swollen lymph nodes.
- Less common symptoms include sore eyes, sore throat, nausea and tingling in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
- Some individuals will experience reoccurring symptoms, especially joint pain, fatigue, lethargy and depression that may continue for up to one year following infection.
- Symptoms disappear eventually and leave few or no after-effects.
- Children are less troubled by the symptoms of Ross River virus infection than adults; the disease is usually milder and runs a shorter course.
- Most people who have been exposed to Ross River virus are immune for life.
- Ross River virus infection can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. A variety of mosquito species can transmit the Ross River virus, biting day and/or night.
- In Australia the following species have been found to be Ross River virus carriers:
- Aedes vigilax, a salt marsh mosquito, bites day and night.
- Aedes normanensis, a flood water mosquito, bites by day in the shade and at night.
- Culex annulirostris breeds in shallow water and bites after sundown and at night.
- Aedes notoscriptus, found only in urban areas where it breeds in artificial receptacles, bites during the day in the shade and at night.
- Ross River virus infection cannot be passed from person to person.
Where is Ross River virus infection a concern?
- Ross River virus infection is found in all states and territories of Australia, but occurs more often in the northern states and in coastal areas.
- Infection can occur year round, but is more common from late November to the end of April during the wet season when mosquito activity increases.
- Ross River virus is also found in Papua, New Guinea, areas of Indonesia and the Western Pacific islands.
Consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
- Fact sheet on Ross River fever: Government of New South Wales, Australia
- Statement on personal protective measures to prevent arthropod bites, The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT)